It wasn’t too long ago that I used to have to ride Washington, DC’s Green Line home from work on occasion. Like Allen Haywood, who was attacked for minding his own business, I too once found myself alone and corned in a bad situation. These days I no longer have to ride the Metro, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s been years since I’ve had to share a Metro car with women who puke into their purses or teenagers who blast their music so everyone — and I mean everyone — can hear. It’s been years since I had to witness women’s cell phones stolen from their hands just before the doors close, or packs of kids looking to start an altercation.

Regardless, a story from the DCist caught my eye today:

A white man on the Green Line yesterday lobbed a racial slur at an African-American passenger and provoked a physical confrontation after taking a swing at a fellow passenger who was filming the scene.

The two-minute video, in which several passengers fling profanities at each other, escalates after the man, arguing with several other Metro riders, starts using derogatory terms. (A homophobic slur was also used against him.)

“You fucking nigger,” he says to a woman standing behind him.

“I’m going to cut your fucking throat,” she says in response.

The exchange repeats itself and and continues until the man notices a camera is trained on him and attempts to slap the person recording the fight. At that point, a small melee appears to break out, with several customers shoving at each other. The white passenger is back on his feet after a few seconds.

“The man was pushing his way onto the train, telling the lady he was pushing to push the lady in front of her,” explains Sarah Fox, who was on the Branch Avenue-bound train with her 15-year-old son when the incident occurred. “Words were exchanged between the man and the lady he pushed. He called her a nigger and she called him a faggot.”

Where does one begin? Because the video starts after the situation has been escalated, we’ll never know who threw out the first slur. Although, truthfully, that doesn’t matter for the purposes of this blog post. The point is this: When you give words more power than they deserve, they will always be readily available weapons — and desperate, dumb or scared people will use them.

This is the end-result of political correctness. When the word ‘nigger’ is so scary to people that it is unacceptable to utter under any circumstance (we actually have people who think censoring Mark Twain is a good idea) it takes on a life of its own. When the word ‘faggot’ is so scary that Hollywood moguls don’t even want fictional characters to say it, it takes on a life of its own.

Is it possible that the woman who called the passenger a ‘faggot’ hates gay people? Yes. Is it possible that the guy who called the woman a ‘nigger’ is a racist? Yes. Is it possible that they are both non-homophobic, non-racist individuals who lashed out with whatever word they thought would inflict the most emotional damage, simply because they’ve been conditioned to believe that it would? Yes.

What kind of person would act like Bruce Willis from Die Hard with a Vengeance on a DC Metro Green Line? A very stupid person, or a very scared person whose brain was frantically searching for something mean to say. He asked his brain for something explosive and he got it. He should have asked it for something mean to say that wouldn’t exponentially increase the chances of death.

Likewise, what kind of black woman would act like those white Republicans from Chris Matthews’ paranoid-delusional on air psychobabble rants when she was angered by a man who set off her gaydar like a metal detector in Fort Knox? A very stupid person or a very mean person who knew that her surrounding company all but guaranteed her physical safety.

Speech always wants to be free, even if it’s ugly. When you try and lock a word away it ferments into something uglier and more potent than it would ever be if left to its own devices. I do not condone the words of either of these individuals, but I do think that political correctness serves as a steroid for the stupid-centers of our brains.

Take for instance the Associated Press’ decision to make the term ‘illegal immigrant’ off limits.

This week the AP Stylebook, the standardized style guide for newspapers and other publications across the United States, announced that no longer, under their rules, will it be acceptable to use the term “illegal immigrant.” AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll explained that the term “illegal” is incorrect when labeling people and “should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.” …

[I]n the case of immigrants who enter the country illegally, the AP also now advises journalists to avoid the term “undocumented.”

Say what, AP? Now you have people everywhere asking, “Well, what the f**k do I call these people?” and others who will now call them illegal aliens if for no other reason than to annoy all offended parties. Jay Leno even joked that we should call them “undocumented Democrats.”

The moral of the story is, it’s bad enough that humans permit each other to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. Allowing a word to hold mastery over you should never be an option.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

3 comments

  1. Words only have the power that you give them. I’ve been called plenty of names throughout my life (mostly the r-word, because I have Asperger’s syndrome) but I don’t let it get to me. They’re just words.

    1. I’m sorry to hear how you were treated by a bunch of ignorant buffoons, Carl. But that’s exactly what they were, and I’m glad to see that you didn’t let that sort of behavior hold you back from being the person you were meant to be.

      When people do that, it says everything you need to know about them. And the random idiots we meet rarely have the ability to determine the trajectory of our lives. Successful people laser in on what they need to do and let all that other stuff bounce right off. You’re on to bigger and better things, and that’s all that matters.

    2. Yeah, it’s happened to me more than once, but each time I grow stronger as a result. Back in 2011 I dealt with a bunch of nimrods from high school on Facebook and they harassed me for a time. I ultimately deleted them and moved on…. didn’t need their negativity in my life.

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